On Monday, 20,000 termination letters were sent out to staff of the trouble national carrier, followed by new contracts offered to 14,000 of them.
The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Christoph Mueller, revealed the airline was “technically bankrupt” and isn’t expected to break even until at least 2018, but only after cutting staff, selling surplus aircraft and flying less on some routes.
The move sparked outrage in some unions, with the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) claiming on Tuesday that MAS had offered unequal re-employment terms and conditions to those affected, because some long-serving cabin crew - including those currently on maternity leave and single mothers - were left out.
But several sources have contacted local media, saying the union’s claims are unfounded.
"The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) is just being ‘disingenuous and sneaky’ in the way it portrays itself by intentionally disregarding hard facts concerning the issue," one source told Bernama.
"All unions in MAS were consulted several times and have been working fairly and constructively with management. Nufam is right in saying that it had not been consulted. But it fails to mention it is an unrecognised union in MAS," another source said.
The sources noted that the biggest of MAS's unions, the Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union (Maseu), had always butted heads with Nufam, with legal cases between the unions currently ongoing.
"So, how can the management consult a union that is unrecognised without incurring the wrath of the recognised union for cabin crew like Maseu?" one of the sources said.
Nufam’s claim for recognition is pending judicial review at the High Court. As it is not recognised by MAS, it has not been consulted during the retrenchment exercise.
Meanwhile, Maseu has urged the government to assist those MAS employees who have lost their jobs to secure employment in the same sector abroad.
This is one of the proposals to be put on the table during the union’s meeting with Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) and Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa, soon, Maseu president Alias Aziz said.
Perplexing is the word being used by a source in describing the allegations of one union making claims of unfair treatment in Malaysia Airline’s recent retrenchment exercise.